University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Laura Snyder


Adjunct Professor, String Bass
Zel 196
snyderl@uwm.edu

A native of New York City, Laura Snyder says, "My goal is to be an instrument. If God has given me a gift to use, I'll use it and take care of it." A double bassist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 1970, Laura began her musical training at the prestigious High School of Music and Art in New York City as well as the Dalcroze School of Music, studying with New York Philharmonic bassist Homer Mensch. She went on to study on major scholarship at Indiana University, studying bass with both Murray Grodner and Gary Karr. Also a trained contralto vocalist, Laura studied voice at Indiana University with both Vera Scammon and Elizabeth Mannion and later continued vocal studies with Mari Taniguchi at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Laura is a frequent soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Marvin Hamlisch and Edo de Waart. To quote James Auer of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "....but it was Laura Snyder, the orchestra's double bassist since 1970, who brought down the house—not as an instrumentalist but as a singer. Her sonorous, majestic contralto voice brought fire and moral magnificence to two traditional spirituals. The first, Steal Away, was alternately crooned and cried out as she paid homage to the person, and the message, of the Baby Jesus. The second, Go Down Moses, was as powerful a declaration of freedom as Uihlein Hall has ever, in its history, heard. Quite obviously, Snyder is an actress as well as a singer of remarkable gifts. She not only vocalized but acted out her intention that "Old Pharoah" shall "let my people go." For a moment the Marcus Center was the Lincoln Memorial and she was Marian Anderson."

Laura is married to Fred Snyder, director of the Lawrence Academy of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. They have three grown children.

Laura and Fred have ministered in a variety of settings and locales, including numerous churches, conferences, retreats, seminars and tours. Highlights include singing at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, soloist with the Phoenix Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, directing children's musicals at Elmbrook Church, and singing gospel songs with the Milwaukee Youth Orchestra's Senior Symphony on their tour of Spain and Italy. In 1998 and again in 1999 they traveled to Africa to minister and sing in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Cape Town and Pietermaritsburg in South Africa. In April of 2000, Laura was narrator with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in subscription performances of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait.

Her first CD, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, is her heart's response to the plight of children in Khayalitsha Township outside Cape Town, South Africa, who live on the very edge of existence; all proceeds from this project go directly to their aid. A family production, this recording features both Jennifer and Jared accompanying their mother in a collection of hymns, Negro spirituals and gospel songs. The entire Snyder family toured southern Africa for three weeks in December of 2001, performing numerous benefit concerts and services for the children of Khayalitsha Township.

As an avid teacher of young people, in addition to her large private double bass studio in Milwaukee, she has served on the faculties of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI, Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, and Carroll College in Waukesha, WI, and currently teaches at UW-Milwaukee. In July of 2003 she traveled to Haiti to teach string bass to underprivileged children for 3 weeks. In February, 2000, she was awarded the Milwaukee Times Newspaper's Black Excellence Award in Music, presented to African-Americans in our community who have opened the doors of change and who portray the essence of positive role models in our society. In 2004, the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee presented Laura Snyder with their prestigious Distinguished Citizen Award for significant musical contribution to the community.